Thomas Jefferson

No golden eagle, warm from the stamping press of the mint, is more sharply

impressed with its image and superscription than was the formative period of

our government by the genius and personality of Thomas Jefferson.



Standing on the threshold of the nineteenth century, no one who attempted to

peer down the shadowy vista, saw more clearly than he the possibilities, the

perils, the pitfalls and the achievements that were within the grasp of the

Nation. None was inspired by purer patriotism. None was more sagacious,

wise and prudent, and none understood his countrymen better.



By birth an aristocrat, by nature he was a democrat. The most learned man

that ever sat in the president\'s chair, his tastes were the simple ones of a

farmer. Surrounded by the pomp and ceremony of Washington and Adams\'

courts, his dress was homely. He despised titles, and preferred severe

plainness of speech and the sober garb of the Quakers.



"What is the date of your birth, Mr. President?" asked an admirer.



"Of what possible concern is that to you?" queried the President in turn.



"We wish to give it fitting celebration."



"For that reason, I decline to enlighten you; nothing could be more

distasteful to me than what you propose, and, when you address me, I shall

be obliged if you will omit the \'Mr.\' "



If we can imagine Washington doing so undignified a thing as did President

Lincoln, when he first met our present Secretary of State, (John Sherman)

and compared their respective heights by standing back to back, a sheet of

paper resting on the crowns of Washington and Jefferson would have lain

horizontal and been six feet two inches from the earth, but the one was

magnificent in physique, of massive frame and prodigious strength,—the other

was thin, wiry, bony, active, but with muscles of steel, while both were as

straight as the proverbial Indian arrow.



Jefferson\'s hair was of sandy color, his cheeks ruddy, his eyes of a light

hazel, his features angular, but glowing with intelligence and neither could

lay any claim to the gift of oratory.



Washington lacked literary ability, while in the hand of Jefferson, the pen

was as masterful as the sword in the clutch of Saladin or Godfrey of

Bouillon. Washington had only a common school education, while Jefferson

was a classical scholar and could express his thoughts in excellent Italian,

Spanish and French, and both were masters of their temper.



Jefferson was an excellent violinist, a skilled mathematician and a profound

scholar. Add to all these his spotless integrity and honor, his

statesmanship, and his well curbed but aggressive patriotism, and he

embodied within himself all the attributes of an ideal president of the

United States.



In the colonial times, Virginia was the South and Massachusetts the North.

The other colonies were only appendages. The New York Dutchman dozed over

his beer and pipe, and when the other New England settlements saw the

Narragansetts bearing down upon them with upraised tomahawks, they ran for

cover and yelled to Massachusetts to save them.



Clayborne fired popguns at Lord Baltimore, and the Catholic and Protestant

Marylanders enacted Toleration Acts, and then chased one another over the

border, with some of the fugitives running all the way to the Carolinas,

where the settlers were perspiring over their efforts in installing new

governors and thrusting them out again, in the hope that a half-fledged

statesman would turn up sometime or other in the shuffle.



What a roystering set those Cavaliers were! Fond of horse racing, cock

fighting, gambling and drinking, the soul of hospitality, quick to take

offense, and quicker to forgive,—duellists as brave as Spartans, chivalric,

proud of honor, their province, their blood and their families, they envied

only one being in the world and that was he who could establish his claim to

the possession of a strain from the veins of the dusky daughter of Powhatan

—Pocahontas.



Could such people succeed as pioneers of the wilderness?



Into the snowy wastes of New England plunged the Pilgrims to blaze a path

for civilization in the New World. They were perfect pioneers down to the

minutest detail. Sturdy, grimly resolute, painfully honest, industrious,

patient, moral and seeing God\'s hand in every affliction, they smothered

their groans while writhing in the pangs of starvation and gasped in husky

whispers: “He doeth all things well; praise to his name!" Such people

could not fail in their work.



And yet of the first ten presidents, New England furnished only the two

Adamses, while Virginia gave to the nation, Washington, Jefferson, Madison,

Monroe and then tapered off with Tyler.



In the War for the Union,